Portland real estate agents go door-to-door looking for sellers

PORTLAND — A to-do list a mile long — probably three to five years of home-improvement projects — kept GB Arrington from selling his northeast Portland home and moving downtown, as he and his wife long had planned.

Then, in November, came a knock on the door: a real estate agent, Peggy Hoag, who had a client who wanted to buy a house just like theirs. It didn't pan out, but when Hoag came knocking again a few months later with a different buyer, everything clicked. They moved out by January, without so much as applying a new coat of paint.

"I think we cleaned," Arrington says of preparing the house for sale. "Once."

With the stock of Portland-area homes on the market at a historic low, real estate brokers are increasingly cold-calling and knocking on doors to find something to sell.

Most homeowners haven't yet warmed to the improving housing market. Since prices stopped falling and reversed course, the number of new listings actually has trailed previous years, a sign homeowners are hoping to see prices rise higher still before they sell.

But buyers are scrambling to take advantage of their improving buying power, aided by post-crash prices and low interest rates.

The frenetic pace of today's housing market often has buyers writing an offer the same day they lay eyes on a home, often only to lose to a higher bidder. They're left to dust themselves off and try again. So unearthing a so-called pocket listing — ones that aren't publicly listed, so real estate agents have them in their pocket — with no competing bidders beating down the door, can be a welcome change. "Buyers really love the idea that their agent is on the phone talking to people in the neighborhood where they're looking," says Hoag, of Prudential Northwest Properties in Portland.

Craig Reger, a broker with Keller Williams Realty, had a "preapproved, ready-to-go" buyer looking for a home on Bull Mountain, but only three or four listings on the market in their target price range.

"And they're all garbage," he says.

So on a recent Monday morning, five agents were on the phone blanketing the community with phone calls, looking for anyone who'd consider selling. For every 100 calls, about three or four will be interested, he says. "In 17 years I've never had to do this," Reger says. "These are real buyers who can't find homes, so we have two options as agents. We can wait for something to hit and compete against 20 other buyers, or we can get on the phone."


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